School Curriculum

Our Catholic Warrior Family

Curriculum

St. Michael Catholic School is fully accredited by the State of Indiana and AdvancED. We follow the state and diocesan curriculum for all grade levels. Our curriculum is aligned with the Indiana Academic Standards for College and Career Readiness. Our textbooks adhere to and exceed these standards. Students in Preschool through 8th grade grow, learn, and are monitored to meet the criteria and standards for academic success. Students are administered MAP Testing (Measures of Academic Progress) and ISTEP+ (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus) to help monitor and promote academic progress. Professional Development is promoted and required for faculty and staff to help meet the ever changing needs of education.

Technology provides teachers valuable tools to teach, and the students the ability to master the curriculum. St. Michael School is equipped with two computer labs, Chromebooks, Smart Boards, and other devices to enhance their learning.

St. Michael students are given the opportunity to participate in several programs that supplement the basic curriculum. Writers Workshop is provided for students in Grades First through Sixth to help accelerate the writing process. Middle School Students have an Advisory period to promote enhanced reading and math enrichment. We also offer advanced math classes (Pre-Algebra and Algebra) to seventh and eighth graders. Field trips are provided for all grades to help build upon and strengthen concepts taught.

St. Michael students also participate in weekly classes of art, music, computers, library, physical education, and Spanish. The school also offers many extra-curricular activities that challenge students both academically, physically, and spiritually.

In addition to the state required subjects, St. Michael Catholic School offers a comprehensive religion program beginning with our preschool school classes. Sacrament preparation begins with Reconciliation in the second grade. Students in third grade prepare for the Eucharist, and the eighth graders prepare for Confirmation.

St. Michael Catholic School’s achievements are the result of the high standards set by its administration and staff. Excellence in education can only be achieved through the combined efforts of dedicated faculty, students committed to the learning process, and supportive parents. SMS is committed to maintaining its high level of success as well as continuing to explore opportunities for improvement.

Enrichment

In addition to classroom learning, our students enjoy a variety of supplemental experiences to enrich their education. Our preschool and elementary students travel on field trips to places such as County Line Orchard, the Challenger Center at Purdue University, the Merrillville Community Planetarium, and the Northwest Indiana Symphony. These trips are examples of experiential learning, through which students can see things they are studying in class put into practice in the real world. Our fourth grade students complete their course of study on Indiana history with a day trip to Indianapolis, where they visit the State Capitol, Indiana Historical Museum, and have some fun at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is consistently mentioned as a “favorite memory” by our graduating students. Our eighth grade students complete their preparation for Confirmation with attendance at the Chrism Mass held at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary. Students also spend a day-long visit at Notre Dame University in South Bend. The trip allows them to spend time taking a tour and visiting all the sights the campus has to offer, as well as providing one last bonding opportunity for the graduating class.

Students at St. Michael School also have dozens of options to expand their learning while having fun with friends in various extracurricular activities.

Here are some of the most popular:

  • Academic Team
  • Altar Servers
  • Art Club
  • Band
  • Boy Scouts
  • Bricks 4 Kidz
  • Choir
  • 8th Grade Mentors (classroom/office helpers)
  • Girl Scouts
  • Liturgy Leaders
  • Music Ministry
  • Science Olympiad
  • Spell Club
  • Student Council

Family and Community

St. Michael Catholic School has a long list of wonderful attributes to offer. However, if you ask any SMS parent about the school’s best features, the most common answer you will hear is an intangible quality, often described as our “family atmosphere”. Many people report experiencing this feeling from the first time they tour our school. Beyond the building, more than just the curriculum, our school is like a family. Everyone is shown love, care and individual attention.

Our teachers are a huge asset to the school. It’s amazing the difference a dedicated teacher can make. Ours are loving, caring and consistent role models who will care for your child like one of their own. Our smaller class sizes allow teachers the time to listen and encourage our students in a way that shows a child that what he or she thinks really matters. We have the added benefit of having our resident Catholic sisters and priests visit the school on a regular basis to interact with the students – to teach a lesson, to read a book to the children, or just a casual stop by to talk and listen.

Visitors to St. Michael School often comment on the good manners of our students. We are a very respectful school. When you walk down the hall, you hear please and thank you. There is a community feeling here, and families are truly invested in the school. Whether it’s carpooling to school or helping when a friend forgets homework, parents really do rely on each other. Small classes allow students and parents alike to get to know each other well, and lifelong friendships develop on both sides. Our school provides an exceptional educational value, but also reinforces the same values and beliefs you teach at home. The school community becomes an extension of your home, and partners with you to develop your children’s sense of morality and what it means to be a good friend, family member and neighbor.

Our students are taught not just by their teachers, but also by the example of upperclassmen ahead of them. Older students can elect to use their free time after lunch or at other times during the day to help younger classes, and also volunteer to help with social events planned for younger grades. Relationships develop throughout the school year because of these visits and other shared activities together. These bonds are precious to the older and younger students alike.

An honored St. Mike’s tradition takes place at the last Mass of the school year for our 8th grade students. Our student body gathers together once again, and at the end of Mass, the 8th graders stand around the altar with the 7th graders gathered in front of them. The soon-to-be graduates raise their hands over the soon-to-be 8th graders, and pray for them to be good role models as they take over the leadership of the school. Then, the 7th graders are seated and our 1st grade class comes forward to sing a song called “We Wish You Well” to their mentors. There is rarely a dry eye in the house.

At the end of the day, there are many schools that offer a high-quality academic experience. St. Michael is unique in that it educates children’s mind, body, and soul. Our school is continually growing and evolving. Educational trends and developments are ongoing, and we are committed to offering the very best options for our students. However, some things will never change. Over one hundred years of tradition stand behind St. Michael Catholic School. Quality Education. Catholic Values. Happy, successful and fulfilled children who are prepared for life in high school, college and beyond. Peace of mind that is clearly worth the investment.

Service

Learning to serve others is a way of life at St. Michael School. Our students work together for the greater good of their own school, our Parish family, and our larger communities of Schererville and Northwest Indiana. A particular emphasis is placed on service to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Here are some highlights of recent and ongoing service projects our students have taken part in:

  • In conjunction with our annual Veteran’s Day program, our students send care packages to military members stationed overseas.  Our first graders write letters to soldiers for Christmas.
  • St. Michael School’s Student Council sponsors a “Mitten Tree” for the holidays.  Students may choose a mitten from the tree and purchase the item listed for a child or adult in need.  Last Christmas we provided gifts for 187 families!
  • Students are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item each time they attend a weekly school Mass.  The donations are collected by our parish’s Good Samaritans, who maintain a year-round food bank providing meals to dozens of needy families each month.
  • During Catholic Schools Week in February, our Student Council chooses a charity to support for each day of the week.  Past beneficiaries have included Sojourner Truth House (women and children’s shelter in Gary), Camp Kesem (for children of parents with cancer), Tradewinds of Northwest Indiana (serving people with special needs), Humane Society of the Calumet Area (helping homeless pets), and more!

 

Spirituality

St. Michael School is an educational ministry of St. Michael Parish and instructs our students in the faith of the Roman Catholic tradition. Students of other faith traditions are welcome to attend our school.

We attend Mass as a school family once per week. This liturgy is always a beautiful celebration where our students as young as kindergarten lead us as lectors, cantors, gift bearers, singers and instrumentalists. Our kindergarten and first grade students walk to church with their older “buddies” (fourth and eighth grades) and sit with them during Mass, which is a wonderful opportunity for the older students to serve as role models. Our student body gathers for prayer together at the beginning and end of each school day, and students practice daily prayer in their individual classrooms.

Students who are baptized Catholics will prepare for and receive three sacraments while they are enrolled at St. Michael School. Second grade students celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation. Third grade students receive their First Holy Communion, and eighth grade students receive the sacrament of Confirmation.

Prayer begins and ends each school day at St. Michael’s, and religion classes are a part of our curriculum from preschool through 8th grade. In addition, the spiritual reality of our Roman Catholic faith is touched upon in all subjects in various ways – we help our children to explore God’s created universe and come to understand more fully their place and vocation in this world. However, the spirit of our faith extends far beyond our textbooks. Our school is a unique environment permeated with the Gospel spirit of love, of belonging, of membership in an all-embracing family – the Body of Christ. Jesus is present in a real way in our school, not just in the crucifix hung on the wall, but in the students and teachers walking its halls.

Science Lab / Math / Writers Workshop

Science Lab

Middle school science class here at St. Michael is all about working hands-on with the topics presented in class. With each new lesson there is always some type of activity or lab to accompany the information to make sure that students can see it in action. Grade 6 science labs are all about learning the basics of the scientific method and how to write about the lab. Grade 7 science labs take it a step further and let the students manipulate their own variables and materials. Grade 8 science labs are all about mastering these skills and connecting them to the world around us. Each grade level is required to compose a typed lab report. These reports help the students to organize information so that is thorough and easily reproducible.

Writers Workshop
Writing is not so much one skill as a bundle of skills that are presented in the 6 Traits of writing. Our Writers Workshop creates a setting where students can acquire these skills, along with fluency and confidence. They see themselves as writers. The 6 Traits (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions) are interrelated with the writing process. Opening the door to spending time writing allows our SMS students a voice. Providing a weekly time for students and their teachers initiates the learning process of writing, which is then continued and developed during their Language Arts lessons in the days following. Our SMS students need to know they have something important to say-that their writing is an avenue to be heard – that the craft of writing matters!

Technology

At St. Michael School, we make it a priority for our students to be exposed to various types of technology. We believe that technology is not a substitute for quality instruction; however, when used properly, various technologically advanced tools can enhance and supplement our students’ learning and growth. We strive to equip our students with the knowledge and tools they will need to thrive in the high school environment and beyond.

Every one of St. Michael School’s classrooms is a wireless internet-connected learning portal, and we have made significant investments in our infrastructure over the last several years to ensure that we stay at the forefront of available technology with maximum speed and connectivity. Our teachers are equipped with new laptops for timely email communication, access to our online gradebook system (which allows parents 24/7 access to information on student progress), and use with their Smart Boards.

Every classroom, from kindergarten through middle school, is equipped with a Smart Board – an interactive white board. Smart Boards are extremely useful in a classroom setting because they help to engage students, providing interactive opportunities that a traditional whiteboard or blackboard can’t. Teachers and students can write on them, just like a traditional chalkboard, but with the added benefit that anything written on the board can be saved for future reference or printed out. The Smart Board can also display any file or software on a connected electronic device, including internet sites or videos. The Board utilizes touch-screen technology so that the experience for students is truly interactive.

SMS is home to two computer labs, which house 55 desktop computers as well as two 3-D printers. All students from preschool through 8th grade visit the labs for a weekly computer class, and students K-8 have an additional weekly multi-media library class. Classroom teachers can access the computer labs to engage their students in special projects to supplement their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum and other subject matter.

St. Michael School also has brand new Chromebooks available for classroom use. These reliable, low-maintenance devices provide a wealth of information available, literally, at students’ fingertips. Our three Elmo document cameras allow teachers to magnify and project images of actual, three-dimensional objects to create larger than life examples of lesson material. Teachers can use all of these tools in a wide variety of educational applications. As part of our commitment to integrate technology into the classroom, our teachers are continually educated on new advances and opportunities to ensure that we keep up with the latest available strategies.

Safety and Security

St. Michael School provides a safe and secure family atmosphere for all students. Our teachers and staff know our students and families by name, and keep them both physically safe and emotionally secure.

St. Michael School provides a nurturing family environment which gives our children a safe place to grow and develop. Because of our small class sizes (current average is 18 students) and our low student-to-teacher ratio (currently less than 12 to one), our teachers have the opportunity to foster a love of learning in each child on an individual basis. Strong teacher-student relationships allow each teacher to determine how each child learns best, and students are more likely to respond to this attention and engage with the lessons.

Unfortunately, there have been events in our country in recent years which have caused parents to ask questions which did not even enter our minds previously. For your peace of mind, St. Michael School is fully equipped and prepared should any emergency situation arise. Specially designed bullet and projectile resistant entry doors and vestibules have been installed at all main entry points of the school. We have a full DVR security camera system throughout our building. We also have an electronic panic call system and classroom call systems. Thankfully, we have never had any occasion to use the most extreme of these measures. However, parents can rest assured that they are at the ready in case of any crisis situation.

Additionally, St. Michael School is located one block from the Schererville Police Station and one mile from the nearest Schererville Fire Station. We received an award from the Schererville Fire Department in 2016 as the “safest school in Schererville” based on the results of fire drills and fire prevention.

Children spend a large part of their day at school, and SMS parents are comforted knowing that their children are in a place where they are known as individuals and cared for. One St. Michael’s mom explains, “When I drop my boys off in the morning, the principal opens the car door for them and greets them by name. Where else will you find that? I feel like they’re spending the day with family.”